Digital Storage Prices

This post will likely be another short one. I was reminded of how 4 years ago when I went on a trip to Japan with my high school, I bought a 2 GB SD Card at Best Buy to put inside my (mom’s) camera and use on the trip. The cost of that card was, however, fairly expensive. But at the time, I thought I was getting a good deal. I believe I paid $75 before tax, so it would have been about $80 upfront. There was a rebate of some amount, but I think it was at most $15 and it was a mail-in rebate that I didn’t receive until way later. Again, this was 4 years ago.

Now, in 2010, you can easily get a brand name 2 GB SD Card for about $10, maybe $15 if you weren’t looking around for deals. Actually, you can even get a 4 GB SD Card for as low as $12; again maybe $20 if you hadn’t been looking around for deals. This summer when I bought an SD Card, it was only $8 for a 4 GB model. It’s incredible to think that something dropped $60 or more in a matter of just a few years, and that I could get a model twice the size as the one I bought 4 years ago for 1/8 the cost. What’s more crazy is that at $10, it’s almost as if you are paying nothing for it. I can remember when 256 MB SD Cards were sold; this was also 4 years ago. Now the lowest amount you can get at retail is 2 GB (at least at Best Buy).

The price of digital storage significantly dropped for SD Cards, but also for other products. Up until this year, I was using a 256 MB Flash Drive. I only planned to use it for transferring Word documents onto it so that I could go print it at the school library. This is essentially how I used it, but I ended up using it more like the pocket-sized, portable drive that it was-if I found PDFs of journal articles, instead of e-mailing it to myself and downloading it on my computer, I could drag and drop it to the flash drive and then drag and drop it to my computer later. For me, this was the preferred method. In any case, I now have a 4 GB USB Flash Drive which only cost me $15. I still only really use it for transferring Word files for printing, and it’s interesting because I honestly don’t know what I’ll ever do with 4 GB ¬†of space.

Finally, the price of internal computer hard drives has also seemed to drop. I don’t know much they cost separately at NewEgg, and when considering them inside computers that are sold, it is hard to price. But, my old computer (I think built in 2005 or 2006) had 40 GB of hard drive space. I can’t even find new computers sold at Best Buy that are less than 160 GB or 250 GB of internal hard drive space. Even at 160 GB, it is 4 times the amount that I used to have. My new computer has 500 GB of space. Unlike the flash drive, I am definitely making use of the extra space. I don’t even know how I was able to get by for so many years with a 40 GB hard drive considering that now I am using no less than 140 GB of space. It’s great because I still have at least 300 GB left.*

So, this blog post was inspired by a book that I am reading titled “Free” by Chris Anderson. He talks about the price of digital storage going down at a significant pace. A 256 MB SD Card probably would be free if they sold it nowadays, which is probably why the lowest that manufacturers sell is 2 GB (8 times a 256 MB Card, mind you) I suspect even those might be out of the market in 2 years. I think they make as high as 64 GB SD Cards nowadays, which are obviously higher in price. Even those should be expected to drop in price very soon. I have had this particular URL for 7 years. When I first started paying for it, there was a storage limit and maybe even a bandwidth limit. The company I use about every 2 or 3 years continued to offer more bang for my buck. This means that although I was paying the same price every month to have this website, I was getting more and more storage space as the years went on. Now, the only kind of monthly plan I can buy is for unlimited storage space (and unlimited of many other things like bandwidth). In fact, this monthly plan cost almost half of the plan I had before. So I am paying half the amount of money to run a website with infinitely more space than I had even a few years ago.

I could probably think of tons more examples and list them here, but I will cease for now. The point is that it is an exciting time, to some extent, to be ‘into’ computers and technology. The limits I once felt are mostly gone now. Almost makes me wonder if someday we won’t even have to pay for some of the stuff I am talking about right now. Maybe digital cameras will just come with 2 or 4 GB or internal memory in a few years. The future is looking good for the consumer.

*If you did the math, you might think that if I am using 140 GB of space that I would naturally have 360 GB of space left if I have a 500 GB hard drive. Because of partitioning and formatting the hard drive for use, the drive will lose a certain percentage of the 500 GB. Then there is Windows 7, which also takes up some space in itself. So, I really have only about 450 GB of space that is usable. It’s still a sizable amount, so it’s not a big deal.